Monday, July 28, 2014

Swift Creek Basin, High Uintas Wilderness, Utah- July 2014

This trip was originally planned as a meet up with our friends who were doing a loop hike through the heart of the Uintas. We made the long drive to the Swift Creek trail head, and finally arrived at the lot. This is a really remote area, and the road in was rough to say the least. We noticed one of Mikes tires was really low, so we decided to head in, and we would change out the spare when we returned. The hike begins as a walk through the woods, crossing a sheep bridge, then 1/4 mile in you reach a junction that you can either head up Yellowstone Creek, or turn right which takes you up Swift Creek. The switchbacks were relenting, and as you climb, you begin to seen that this ridge had been hit by lightning quite a bit. Almost every tree at the top was cooked black from being struck during a thunderstorm. We had partly cloudy skies, so we proceeded up the ridge and into the drainage.

AUTHORS NOTE: There is very little water available on this hike. The trail only crosses the stream twice, and it puts you quite a distance from the creek most of the time. So filter when you are at the crossings, after the second one, you are not going to have water until reaching Deer Lake. This hike is a brutal one, not much flat trail, and rocks sticking up in the trail pretty much all the way to Deer Lake. We made use of the water that was available, and continued on. The first stream crossing is marked by a bunch of beaver dams, and there is only one dry route across if you want to not have to wade the creek. Then it puts you on the east side of the canyon for quite a while, and you are very high in the drainage at some points. After walking for a long time, we reached the second creek crossing, which was more manageable. Then, after hiking almost five miles, the never ending switchbacks begin. These are long, and after such a huge hike, they really kick your butt. We reached the top at dusk, and made our way to Deer Lake, where we were going to put up for the night. We found only one spot to camp, and we set up shop. This whole basin is strewn with rocks and boulders everywhere, making finding a spot to pitch a tent complicated to say the least.

We made dinner, had a small fire, shot s few after dark photos, then it was off to bed. I was woken up about 2 AM to flashes of lighting and loud thunder as a cell lit up over us, and dumped rain almost all night. The next morning we made breakfast and assessed the situation. The weather continued to improve, so we decided to move up to Farmers Lake, and camp there and try to connect with our friends over at the Timothy Lakes. We made our way up to the junction, then we moved up to White Miller Lake, where we took a break, and took in the view of this pretty lake. Then we moved up to Farmers Lake. It was gorgeous up here, but extremely rocky, and very little in tent spots for us to set up shop in. We walked around the lake, and I shot a really nice pano, but we decided that it was really exposed, and if another thunderstorm came in, this would leave us vulnerable. I had seen a nice spot down at White Miller Lake, so we moved back down there to set up shop for the night. This spot was amazing! It had a great view of the lake and peaks above and flat tent spots! We made our camp and then filtered our water. The sunset began, and it was quite the show. Dinner, some night shots then it was off to bed. I slept so good, far better than the first night. We woke to bluebird skies, and nice temps. We made breakfast, and realized that we were not going to connect with our friends, so we decided to make the hike out, and get to the car for some cold ones. The hike out was long, hot, rocky, and a workout to say the least. We made it to the car in just under five hours, and those camping chairs and cold beers were a welcome treat.

After changing out the spare, with it being so late in the day, we decided to just disperse camp and do the drive home in the morning. This was an incredibly wild area in the Uintas, and a grueling hike to get up there. The camping selections were tough, and the lack of water until the upper cirque makes it quite challenging as well. It was an awesome adventure, and great to visit a new area. Enjoy the slideshow, more adventures to come.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cecret Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah- July 2014

I got to take my daughter up for a sneak peek at the wildflowers in the Albion Basin. It was gorgeous up there. And the colors were amazing. We had great weather, and we could not have picked a better day to head up to the lake. We spent some time hiking around and just enjoying the day together. Enjoy the photos, more to come.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jewel Lake, Uinta Mountains, Utah- July 2014

This is an area that I visit at least once a year in the Uintas. It is a great hike, very scenic, and a quick hop between two to three miles depending on where you want to set up shop. I stayed at Cutthroat Lake with Mike and his dog Cruiser for my birthday trip last year, so we decided to camp at Jewel Lake since it was middle of the week, and no one would be out there. The hike in was virtually empty, and when we got to Ruth there was one family who was on their way out. Those would be the last people we saw until we came out. After a brief stop are Ruth, we pushed on, over the minor ridge, and were standing lakeside at Hayden Lake. A couple of photos, and then we moved on past the next pond in the meadow below, and then down the trail to Jewel Lake. We had a moose delay as we hit the boulder field as you get to the end of the trail. No one saw it, and as we started hopping down the rocks, it took off west in a hurry, so no shots unfortunately. We made our way NW around the lake and settled on a very nice spot. We got shop set up, then decided to give fishing a try. I made my way around the lake and found a spot where they were rising. I had hit, after stolen fly, after hit, after fish get off. I lost seven that should have been landed and I missed a good 20 more. I did hook into one that Mike and Eric, who was new to our group, saw as they were standing on the ledge above me where I was fishing.

I have landed nice size Tiger Trout out of this lake before, so I am sure that is what was hitting my line. I had one on that I for sure was going to be a keeper. Just as I got him in shallow to retrieve, it snapped off my fly, and the sound was collective from all three of us. Bummer. If you catch a big one out there, and you find a black Beetle in its mouth, you will know the size fish I had on there. I fished until dusk, then headed back to camp to shoot some shots. I was trying a few different tricks with sunsets with my camera, and I managed to shoot in my opinion, one the best shots of the year for my portfolio. After that it was time for dinner and a fire, as evening set in. I started to get a really jabbing pain sensation after dinner in my left shoulder. It became a bit more aggravated later on, but I stuck it out as we were supposed to have rain and we had a mostly clear night with a 3/4 moon shinning over Lofty Peak. After a fun time hanging out and listening to tunes, we all decided to turn in. I awoke to feeling a bit dizzy, and nauseated and my shoulder hurt even worse. I am not sure what happened, but maybe I over did it fishing, and re-injured an injury that I got from getting hit on my snowboard by a skier doing 40+ MPH at Snowbird two years prior.

I made the judgement call, full inviting the guys to stay and I would just crash in the car. I learned a long time ago, that if you are sick or injured, and you try to stick it out, you only make it worse for yourself. Survival ultimately means you have to get out if you are able to walk. I did not sleep well because of the pain, and it was not getting better. I just had to get out, for if this got worse, I was going to need medical attention. I packed quickly, and Mike said he and Eric were going to go to Teal and Cutthroat then come out. I made a quick hike out. I have done this route so many time, that I did not think about it, I was on autopilot. I just did it because it was time to leave. I endured with my shoulder, mostly on adrenalin from being a little concerned about what was wrong. Eventually, after I had been at the car for a few hours, Mike and Eric made it out with Cruiser the wonder dog, and we headed back home. Huge thunderstorms were on their way in, and I think all three of us were feeling like we just did not want to sit in our tents all evening, so we made a good choice to head out. I am nursing a really sore shoulder blade, so gonna take a short break to heal up before heading back out into the wild. Enjoy the slideshow, more adventures to come.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Twin Lakes Trail, Big Cottonwood Canyon- July 2014

I have a list of places to backpack here in the Wasatch, and Twin Lakes was on that list. I decided to head up because the weather was nice, clear skies and no storms expected. I made a quick pace into Silver Lake then pushed up the Twin Lakes trail. I made a rather quick climb and was standing at the dam before I knew it. I traversed back to the southwest side of the lake, and found a great spot to set up shop for the night. I got camp set, and then tossed in a line. I got one on pretty quick, but much smaller than the whopper I pulled out of here last summer. After some time fishing, and some chilling lake side, I made my way back up to camp for the evening. The sunset was pretty, and the stars started to pop out. You could see the Milky Way above the Wolverine Cirque. I spent quite a while shooting photos and enjoying a few beverages I hauled in with me to enjoy. After getting what I wanted via the camera, I turned in. Some of the best sleep in weeks for sure. I awoke to the sun up over the mountains, and really mild temps for an AM at camp in the mountains. I made some coffee and then tried out some more fishing. Much slower than the evening before, but still fun. I finally headed back up and packed it up to hike out. The walk out was warm and beautiful. It was a nice evening up there. I am glad to have checked this one off the Wasatch Bucket List. We are nearly half way through summer, so more adventures to be had for sure!

Mill D North/Dog Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon, July 2014

When I get to spend the day with my daughter, it is always very special. And she is now getting old enough that we like to spend time in the outdoors together. We decided to hike up to Dog Lake from the Big Cottonwood side. The hike up was beautiful, lots of flowers and my daughters favorite butterflies! The temps were just right, and we made a great pace. Since the Millcreek side was still closed at the terraces, Dog Lake was a ghost town! We had the place all to ourselves. The hike out was great, and the light playing in the trees was awesome to see. Great day in the mountains with my daughter. More adventures to come!